Was the first life on earth fuelled by metal?
It looks a lot like early organisms relied on nickel sulphide for sustenance. Scientists have discovered how the metallic substance can transform simple chemicals into substances that underpin life, which could in turn potentially kick off life-like processes. The research team has shown how iron converts CO2 into the chemicals found in a tranche of metabolic processes, which in turn start up simple versions of these processes without the need for enzymes. It matters because it gives us hints about how the earliest metabolism on earth took place… without which we wouldn’t exist. A humbling thought!
The US Army’s latest 3D printer prints with ultra-strong steel
The USA Army is proud to announce its massive new high speed 3D printer, capable of printing super-tough steel components and weaponry. It’s made by 3D Systems and cost a whopping fifteen million dollars, capable of printing strong steel objects as large as 1m x 1m x 0.6m. It is, without a doubt, the biggest, fastest, and most precise steel printer ever made.
The machine uses a nickel-alloy steel called AF96, originally developed to make powerful bombs. The new 3D printed alloy is actually 50% stronger than the same metal when it’s forged or cast, and the machine is due to routinely print parts for the US Army within the next three years.
Chile uses copper nanoparticles as a Covid-19 disinfectant
Chile is proud of its vast copper mines. Now one Chilean lab is recommending the use of miniature specks of the metal to help contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country. The Laboratory, called Aintech, claims its are the first ever products to harness copper nanoparticles to kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces.
Their innovative copper-containing alcohol spray, for example, is being used to make shoes and face masks safe, and another of their products is perfect for use on harder surfaces. Apparently the disinfecting effects last for an entire week. Right now Aintech’s customers include the Santiago bus system, a football club and the Collahuasi copper mine itself. At the same time Chile’s Codelco copper producer claims the metal can also be used to disinfect large areas like hospitals and airports.
Rio Tinto shuts down in NZ
The British-Australian firm Rio Tinto is set to shut down its aluminium operations in New Zealand in 2021 thanks to high energy costs – some of the highest in the global industry – and gloomy predictions for the future. The Tiwai Point smelter at Southland on New Zealand’s South Island will be closed by the end of August 2021 after a strategic review dating back to October 2019.
EN+ calls for tariff reductions on imports of low-carbon aluminium
En+ is a respected hydropower-to-metals company. They’ve asked the EU to think about eliminating tariffs on exports of low-carbon aluminium, a metal used in an extraordinary variety of ways including cars and wind turbines. The EU will be investing not far short of €500bn each year to achieve its climate change mitigation goals, and that means there’s a big opportunity to speed up the transition by making ‘green aluminium’ the first choice.
It makes sense since there’s not a lot of benefit in switching Europe’s coal-fired power plants off when the products we buy are still made from high-carbon, coal-produced aluminium. Europe still relies too much on imported high-carbon metals. And regular aluminium is often called ‘solid electricity’ thanks to the vast quantities of power needed to turn alumina into refined metal.
Samsung India’s beautiful aluminium Smartwatch
As aluminium stockholders it’s exciting to see the metal being used in new and innovative ways. Take Samsung, which has just announced it’ll provide the widest range of 4G smartwatches in India thanks to the launch of Galaxy Watch Active2 4G Aluminium edition. The Aluminium edition is Samsung India’s most affordable 4G watch and is also the first smartwatch to be manufactured in India, just one of a range of 18 smartwatches in the brand’s ‘Make for India’ programme.
QuesTek’s new optimised 17-4 stainless steel variant
Thanks to the Daily Reporter for revealing QuesTek’s new optimised 17-4 stainless steel variant. The new variant comes with excellent strength and anti-corrosion properties and comes in two varieties: QT 17-4 for single low-temperature heat treatments, and QT 17-4+ for as-built projects. The new powder improves the production of complicated, high-strength stainless steel parts comparable to wrought 17-4 PH, but with no costly cryogenic processing or high-temperature treatments.
All this means it’s relatively easy to create a fully martensitic microstructure in the as-printed condition. As a result there’s a lot less variation in its properties. The new powders are due to be used in the aerospace, defence, medical, chemical processing, energy and more sectors, and QuesTek is discussing licensing and speeded-up commercial adoption with a variety of partners.
Metalex welcomes you back!
Metalex have been operating fully throughout this crisis and are extraordinarily proud that we have been able to continue to support our customers. We are extremely fortunate that we haven’t furloughed any staff or made any redundancies and are enormously grateful to our customers for that. The levels of service we are providing now are consistent with our previous service levels and you can still rely on us for next day delivery of processed metals across most of the country. We are delighted to be welcoming more and more of customers back to work and look forward to supporting you with your metal supplies soon.
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